It’s been a long 12 years since the current-generation Toyota Sequoia came to life. During that time, the U.S. has elected two presidents, Americans went through tough economic times in the Great Recession, Lance Armstrong admitted to doping in his Tour de France wins, and Britain voted to leave the European Union. Yet in all that time, the second-generation Sequoia has been left largely unchanged. The three-row body-on-frame SUV has received minor upgrades since it originally launched, but for the 2020 model year, Toyota is giving the Sequoia a TRD Pro model for the first time.
The 2020 Sequoia TRD Pro is more capable off-road than the rest of the Sequoia lineup. Like other TRD Pro models, the Sequoia gets Fox shocks in the front and rear, tuned specifically for the SUV. The 2.5-inch front shocks come with seven compression zones and two rebound zones, and by increasing the suspension travel to about 0.7 inch, the ride and body control are cushier off-road. The 2.0-inch rear monotube shocks have also been designed to increase the damping forces, giving occupants a better ride over difficult surfaces.
Besides the new suspension benefits, the 2020 Sequoia TRD Pro offers a TRD cat-back exhaust to produce a better exhaust note and a TRD front skidplate for more protection when venturing off-road.
Although these changes don’t turn the Sequoia into a Raptor-beating SUV, they do improve the Toyota’s ride on and off pavement. We drove the 2020 Sequoia TRD Pro from Plano, Texas, to an OHV park in Bridgeport before testing the suspension on some decent trails. The 5.7-liter V-8 engine continues to move the Sequoia with 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque, and its six-speed automatic sends that power to all four wheels. To help with the off-road experience, the TRD Pro comes standard with a two-speed transfer case and a center differential lock.
The new Fox shocks did a good job absorbing the broken pavement we drove on, and although the drive was mostly in a straight line, the body seemed to be controlled most of the time. Like other Toyota body-on-frame vehicles, the Sequoia’s chassis feels old, but it still gets the job done. Although the Sequoia is quite heavy, the V-8 engine is powerful enough to get the Sequoia up to decent speeds. The transmission is also old, but it shifted smoothly and responded well to downshifts whenever we pressed the accelerator hard.
And once we steered off the pavement, the Sequoia TRD Pro proved to be a good off-road SUV. The trails we traversed had steep drops and hills with big rocks that required us to engage four low at some points, and the SUV moved through all of them with no trouble. The Fox shocks really shined; they provided a cushy ride when we drove over some rocks. It was helpful to have the skidplate during part of the experience, especially during a small drop, as the Sequoia’s 27-degree approach angle wasn’t enough to completely clear some of the rocks. Although the standard running boards serve as a convenient step to make climbing inside the cabin easier, they lower the TRD Pro’s breakover angle and hurt its off-road performance. And with its big hood, it was hard to see outside to get a clear visual of some of the obstacles.
Besides its off-road chops, the Sequoia TRD Pro has a different aesthetic that makes it stand out from other Sequoias. A new black grille with the Toyota lettering contrasts well with the new Army Green color—exclusive to the TRD lineup—while the black 18-inch BBS wheels complete the rugged look. A standard TRD roof rack increases cargo capacity, useful for when you’re hauling lots of camping gear. Other standout exterior features include Rigid Industries LED foglights, which help illuminate trails when the sun is down, and TRD Pro logos on the front door and the liftgate.
Inside, the 2020 Sequoia TRD Pro comes with standard second-row captain’s chairs, which allow easier access to the standard third row. Those in the second row will have plenty of room, and the third row offers enough legroom for adults on short city drives. We wish the second and third rows were better equipped, though. There are only three USB ports in the entire cabin, and all three are located toward the front. The Sequoia finally gets a new 7.0-inch touchscreen that’s compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa, and all TRD Pros also come with a JBL audio system with 14 speakers and navigation.
Whereas other Sequoias can tow up to 7,400 pounds, the TRD Pro’s off-road shocks decrease its towing capacity to 7,100 pounds.
Like all new Toyotas, the Sequoia comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense P, which includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with sway warning system, automatic high-beams, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control. The latter only works at high speeds, and we didn’t find it very convenient to use, given that the driver has to take control of it when the Sequoia reaches a speed below 18 mph.
As you might expect, all these upgrades come with a hefty price increase. The 2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro starts at just over $65,000, positioning the off-road-oriented model just below the Platinum trim in the Sequoia lineup.
These updates will help the Sequoia, but they can’t hide the fact that the SUV is in deep need of a full redesign. We don’t know what the future holds for the Sequoia, especially since the 4Runner and Land Cruiser have the off-road SUV segment pretty well covered. We just hope we don’t have to wait another 12 years to see the new line of body-on-frame vehicles from Toyota.
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